User Experience

While I've never been fond of the three-toned silver, black, and tertiary orange styling Lenovo has employed on their Idea line of machines, I must concede that they get a lot right with the styling of the IdeaCentre A7. I'm not sold on the glossy finish of the display, but the edge-to-edge glass takes some of the, well, edge off. Meanwhile the aluminum shell of both the display and the base (where the guts of the computer itself are) is attractive and clean.

The hinge isn't quite as mobile as I'd like, but it gets the job done. What I'm less fond of is the port placement; there's just one USB port on the side, while the HDMI in and HDMI out ports are right next to it. Wouldn't it have been more logical to put a second USB port and the headphone and mic jacks on the side and move the HDMI ports to the back?

Where I think Lenovo does themselves in, and where I think Windows 8 is going to put a lot of this thing to bed, is in the glut of software included. Touch-based games are fine on small screens, but on a big one like this they can be a lot less enjoyable. I'm sure a lot of users will be happy to see games like Fruit Ninja and Angry Birds included, but Lenovo's custom interface is sluggish and leaves something to be desired.

As I said, most of my complaints here are going to be solved by Windows 8. The reality is that companies like Lenovo, Dell, HP, Toshiba, and so on...they aren't software UI designers and it really shows in the applications that they have to install to justify the touchscreen, since Windows 7's interface ultimately isn't particularly touch friendly. However you feel about Windows 8 on the desktop, with touch interfaces it's going to be the right choice (as long as you life gorilla arms).

Heat and Noise

I can kvetch about the port placement on the body, but what Lenovo has really done right is the cooling system. Even under load, the IdeaCentre A7 is both cool and quiet, and it's worlds better than the wind tunnel that Dell's XPS One 2710 can become.

These thermals were produced under a fairly extreme stress test; under regular use the CPU temperatures topped out at the low 80s, and it's clear the A7 was designed for silence instead of cooling because it never produces anything more than a pretty low whooshing noise. Honestly I feel like they're benefitting tremendously from putting the computer hardware in the base instead of behind the display; they have to shrink it down and can't fit in a 3.5" drive, but everything runs cooler and quieter.

Power Consumption

Finally, one of the biggest wins for going with not just Ivy Bridge, but Ivy Bridge mobile hardware, is realized in the power the A7 draws. This is another point where I feel like Lenovo has a solid victory over competing all-in-ones with the IdeaCentre A7.

Idle Power Consumption

Load Power Consumption

Load power doesn't seem that great until you realize the IdeaCentre A7 is driving a 27" IPS display. The XPS One 2710's desktop chip takes its pound of flesh at both idle and load, though I'd probably eat the extra few watts the GDDR5 on the GPU consumes in exchange for the performance.

Screen Quality Conclusion: Everything's There, It Just Needs Touching Up
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  • ananduser - Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - link

    Add the windows license on top and you're at least 350$ more. That coupled with the inability to install windows without that shoddy bios emulation bootcamp does. In essence, not a good deal. Reply
  • tim851 - Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - link

    Both the iMac and the Lenovo come with an OS - why would I add a Windows licence to the iMac? I'd reckon most people buying AIOs couldn't care less what OS they run. Reply
  • ananduser - Thursday, September 27, 2012 - link

    If you put it that way you're correct. People completely OS agnostic could get the imac for 250$ more. But I could also say that the same OS agnostic crowd could top 250$ more over the imac and get something better like the HP Z1. Reply
  • royalcrown - Friday, September 28, 2012 - link

    Wow...You obviously don't own an Imac. The "Shoddy" bios emulation you speak of runs windows perfectly, Ubuntu, linux mint, BSD etc..; It also boots from usb drives and external usb and firewire.

    Im writing this on an imac running Windows 7 x64 right now. How is it shoddy when it runs for days without crashing ?
    Reply
  • Juddog - Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - link

    The idea itself is actually pretty nifty; a nice big 27" touch screen with Windows 8 sounds pretty cool.

    This isn't a machine to play games on, it's a machine you'd put in the kitchen or the kids room, so the graphics really doesn't have to be that fast. You can upgrade the graphics card to a GT630 2 GB from a GT630M 1 GB on the website, along with getting an SSD boot drive at the high end.

    That being said, I agree with some of the points above; a faster hard drive and a repositioning of the ports would be fairly cheap to implement and the graphics card options are pretty limited. This is one of those products that I feel would be great in a lobby somewhere, or combined with an in-home entertainment solution. For example having something like this in your kitchen linked up to the lighting in your house, or to the temperature control, or to music devices placed throughout the house etc..
    Reply
  • Conficio - Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - link

    I like the looks of this and finally an IPS panel. While I'd love to have an option for higher resolution, it would be fine with me for a dorm or single room apartment.

    I'd love to see some price reducing options:
    * Ditch the extra GPU hardware. As many don't game at all. For seniors and many more it is a waste of money and energy.
    * Offer i5 dual core processor. There is plenty of people that don't need a quad core for reading e-mail and watching the picures/videos of the grand kids. (Just make sure it is HD4000, so the graphics are not degrading too much).

    Other improvement suggestions:
    * Put headphone plugs in front
    * Put USB in front two at least for keyboard + mouse or side (more of them)
    * Improved Wifi with 2x2 or 3x3 streams(most home users are fine with Realtek NIC for wired)
    * make the core PC upgradable, so that it can be replaced and the monitor re-used
    * faster/better hard drives SSD options
    Reply
  • OBLAMA2009 - Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - link

    $1500 is a lot for notebook performance and a low resolution monitor Reply
  • The_Kristoffer - Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - link

    When are you going to publish the rundown of Haswell? I've been waiting for, what feels like, forever! Reply
  • tukkas - Thursday, September 27, 2012 - link

    Dustin, what is you preferred 27 inch aio at this point? lenovo, dell, hp? anything else?

    thank you
    Reply
  • royalcrown - Friday, September 28, 2012 - link

    I don't really see the point of this Imac clone; If they are gonna do it at least give people a COMPELLING reason to buy like dual 7xxx gpus or something. Buyers who wanted a mac but want better gaming performance could go for this. Till then it's a so so knock off. Reply

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